ATLANTA, USA – Flying under the radar has always been linked to Ronald “Ron” Harper Jr.’s young basketball career.
The son of NBA legend Ron Harper and Maria Pizarro, who has Filipino roots, wasn’t a highly recruited college player before deciding to play at Rutgers University, where he helped the school to two straight NCAA tournament appearances.
Although he was invited at the recent NBA Combine in Chicago and projected to be picked in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft, most of the Philippine hype has swirled around 7-foot-3 Filipino prospect Kai Sotto and Remy Martin, another American with Filipino roots who won the US NCAA Division 1 crown with the Kansas Jayhawks last April.
Listed as a 6-foot-5 small forward, Harper likes to model his game to current Miami Heat player PJ Tucker. And reports say he impressed scouts in the two scrimmages that he played in the NBA Combine.
“I feel like my ability to space the floor is going to really translate and my ability to defend, to rebound, and I feel like I was able to showcase that throughout these two games,” he said.
“I know it’s only a sample size. It doesn’t make or break the draft process. I feel like I did what I wanted to do which is to go 2-0 with my team (Team Erman).”
Harper said his father, who won three NBA championships with Michael Jordan and the famed Chicago Bulls in the ‘90s, has given him a lot of advice throughout the draft process.
“He just tells me to soak it all in,” he said.
“Watching him, everybody says great things about him. How he’s just a winner and he impacts winning,” Harper said of his father.
“I want to go into the league and I want people to think the same thing about me, whether in the G League or the NBA. I just want to be a guy that really impacts winning and that takes on any role that the team needs.”
Aside from his dad, sports is in his mother’s side, with mom Maria playing Division 1 hoops at the University of New Orleans. His maternal grandfather Manuel, played in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico for the Philippines.
But he carries the name of his father, who had a stellar 15-year career with stops at the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Admittedly, he knows the heavy load that he carries with his name, recalling that he was just two years old when his dad retired and doesn’t have any recollection of his father’s playing career.
His dad’s video highlights were just some of the things that he relished as he was learning basketball.
“He was very athletic especially in his early days before he blew his knee out. I remember he was bucket,” he said. “He was athletic. He was flying all around the court. He’s a fun player to watch.”
“Having played with the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers and win five championships, that doesn’t come easy,” the young Harper added. “That championship culture is something I strive to bring to any team in the next level and to any team inside the locker room.”
That championship culture was also one thing he saw in the documentary, The Last Dance, which chronicled the last championship of the Chicago Bulls in the 1997-1998 season and where his father played an integral part.
“Come on man, it was during COVID, I had to watch The Last Dance. [My dad] was getting all early episodes sent to him. So, I was getting a head start on all the episodes before everybody else. I definitely tuned into that,” said Harper.
“It was funny you know, I feel like I heard every story in the world for my dad about those days of him with the Bulls in The Last Dance. It kind of took you to a deeper understanding about it. You heard the same stories from different dudes and I heard some news stories. So, I enjoyed it a lot.” – Rappler.com